Schmoozing is easy in the great outdoors
Every Thursday during the summer, in-the-know socialites party at the Loden Vancouver (1177 Melville Street). They ride the elevator to the luxurious Halo Penthouse Suite for Mercury Rising, a rooftop event that runs from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. “It’s definitely something that you don’t find very much: a beautiful 3,000-square-foot suite with a fabulous patio in an urban setting,” says Richard Graham, the hotel’s senior sales manager.
On hot afternoons, it’s all about the wraparound patio, with its area rugs, small side tables, chaise longues, and elegant patio chairs. (Get there early to score a seat.) Guests sip sangria from the cash bar and sway to the DJ’s sexy beats. “It’s outside and during the day, so it’s more of a happy feel, whereas bars are darker and seedier,” Graham says during a phone chat, explaining the appeal. That means no need for a skintight leopard-print dress; partygoers wear flirty sundresses and other casual outfits.
And with food like house-made ice-cream bars, kebabs, and sliders from the kitchen of Voya, the Loden’s restaurant available for purchase, guests stay put into the evening. These 30-somethings and 40-somethings want to kick back, enjoy a bevvy, and chat up others. Are there any hookups? “What happens at the Loden stays at the Loden,” Graham jokes.
When they’re not at the Loden, many of these downtown professionals are socializing on the patios at Joey Bentall One (507 Burrard Street), a hub for lawyers, brokers, and their buddies. There’s a summer patio off the main dining room that seats 60, but the 80-seater that operates year-round and adjoins the wine bar is where it’s at. Executive chef Chris Mills gives a tour of the space, sliding into one of the roomy outdoor booths that are his recommended spots for leaning back and checking out the schmoozy crowd. When the patio features a game on TV, or when DJ Blondtron spins on Fridays from 3 p.m. till late, these prime vantage points are in even higher demand.
It’s mid-morning, before the restaurant has opened, so the space is still empty. But come 11:30 a.m., it will be buzzing with a mostly business crowd that’ll keep the party going well into the evening on Fridays. And what do these movers and shakers eat when they manage to sit down between deals? “No one at Bentall stays in one place long enough to eat a full meal!” Mills says. Guests prefer small bites like tuna tacos, lettuce wraps, flatbreads, and charcuterie platters. And the drinks keep flowing, including icebergs (beer with lemon vodka slush), mojitos, and of course bellinis.
The scene at Yaletown’s Glowbal Grill Steaks & Satay (1079 Mainland Street) is a totally different sort. “Imagine you’re holding a dinner at your house and you’ve invited your closest 10 friends and they bring their closest 10 friends,” explains Charles Zuckermann, head of social media and marketing for Glowbal Restaurant Group by phone. With intimate banquettes along with table seating, and a well-heeled crowd of professionals and trendsetters, it’s all about getting cozy with those around you.
“There’s a lot of interaction between tables that might not even know each other. Because of the way the patio is set up, there’s not a lot of room between tables,” explains Russ Jahns, the restaurant group’s marketing head, during a phone interview. Servers make it a habit of introducing people to one another, who chat over satays and martinis. “It’s hard to close the patio,” he says. “People don’t want to leave it.”
But let’s be honest: even Carrie Bradshaw sometimes wants to let down her hair and relax at a chill party. The new rooftop patio at Falconetti’s East Side Grill (1812 Commercial Drive) may be the coolest spot on the Drive right now, especially when the sounds of live music downstairs filter up at night. Co-owners Ed Dolmat and Carmine Falcone have built their dream patio: a multi-level year-round space with a sunny banquette section, shaded tables in the centre, and others looking down onto the street below.
Standing at the patio bar and soaking in the energy reminds you of hanging out on a pal’s deck, where there’s no pretension, just unabashed good times. Groups nosh on Salt Spring Island mussels, house-made sausage, and quesadillas. They don’t seem to have a care in the world. Dolmat uses words like laid-back to capture the patio’s atmosphere. “It’s like you’re in Mexico, but you’re not,” he says. Customers mingle and bond over pitchers of mojitos and the eight premium beers that are on tap. Dolmat looks perfectly at home in a T-shirt and jeans—the unassuming dress code for the best kind of patio party.